The scary reality for the homeless living on Yorkshire’s streets
Ian, 48, knows the terrifying reality of what it’s like to be homeless if only for one night. Scary, cold and frightened for his life – and that’s only the start. Having lost his accommodation he found himself destitute on the streets.
For the latest Huddersfield news and stories, click here. The former forklift truck driver says he could easily have ended up being stabbed after falling in with a drug-addicted, intoxicated crowd but somehow managed to see his way out. After a difficult night on a park bench, he sought refugee at Clare House, a lifeline for Huddersfield’s homeless, and is now hopeful he can rebuild his life anew.
Fortunately, he fell in with the right people who could give him professional support and with a big dollop of kindness is now confident he will never look back.
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He said: “It was just one night that I was on my own on that bench but I will never forget it, it was hard. “I was lucky it wasn’t raining but it was cold. I could have been stabbed, anything could have happened.
“I had had enough and the next day I went to Kirklees Council and I have been very lucky, I have been here two to three weeks. “I join in with the cooking and have a go at everything here including working on the allotment. “On Tuesday a few of us were invited to go on a barge trip at Mirfield Marina which was very nice despite the rain.
“I’m getting help brushing up my forklift truck qualifications. Coming here is a lot better than I thought it would be.”
Joanne who is getting help at Clare House after finding herself homeless (Image: Robert Sutcliffe/Reach)
Joanne, 51, has struggled with drink and alcohol problems since she was a teenager, 34 years of failing to stay on an even keel. She said: “I have been here for nine months with five months at dextox and rehabilitation centres in Manchester and Sheffield.
“I’ve had a few slips with drinking but I’m a different person. The people here have arranged for me to get a property and I’m just waiting to go. “I’m looking forward to it but scared in a way but it’s for the best and I’m going to get support all the way.”
A 22-year-old young woman who had a very difficult relationship with her family says: “I came here because I had nowhere else to go. “Before I came here I was struggling with drinking all the time, mental health problems and feeling depressed.
Communal living area at Clare House in Huddersfield
“But I’m getting a property soon and the people here help with absolutely everything. I have never had support like this before.”
Clare House on Clare Hill, just off Huddersfield town centre was built several years ago by housing provider Home Group, the UK’s largest care, and support provider and is run with funding from Kirklees Council. It offers accommodation to around 20 people at any one time and has a large number of specially trained staff. Joanne Murphy, a coordinator who has been at Clare House for two years, says homelessness comes in all shapes and sizes.
One middle-aged man had been living at an allotment for seven years and didn’t seek help because he had a dog and didn’t want to lose it. But the house has always had a dog-friendly policy and after staying for five months he has been fast-tracked to a flat. Joanne says: “There are a large amount of people who come here who have been professional people and they say: ‘I should not be here’.
A room at Clare House in Huddersfield
“We had one very well-to-do man who was so embarrassed that he was homeless.
“It turned out that he had not told his family because he didn’t want them to know his marriage had broken down. He too has been fast-tracked, has a flat, new furniture and it’s perfect for him.” And Nicky Barratt, operations manager for the Home Group, West Yorkshire, is excited at the prospect of obtaining the services of a clinical psychologist by the end of the year.
She says: “It’s going to be massive for us.
This person will run group sessions, upskill staff, make the teams more confident and help try to break that cycle in homelessness.”
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